Feb 26, 2009 1:08pm
Re: The Grateful Dead Era(s)????
1965-66: Jug/Garage band with promise
1967-1969: Pioneers of 'acid rock'...energetic, inventive, psychedelic splendor but rough around the edges.
1970-71: New horizons, a move away from psychedelia and back to folk and country roots Garcia came from...song-writing skills emerge in full flower with "Workingman's" and "American Beauty"...
1972: A stand alone year that must be recognized as one of the band's greatest. A band capable now of mastering everything from blues to rock to country. Jams grow in length and sophistication. Vocals strong throughout. Songwriting also flourishes.
1973-1974: Jazzy dead, for good and ill. Some wonderful explorations ("Eyes", "Let it Grow", "China>Rider") along with some self-indulgent meanderings (too-long "Dark Stars" and "Other Ones" that break down into cacaphonous noise-making).
1975: A break needed. The few shows played show the great promise to come.
1976: Slow, languorous, jazzy, mellow, inventive re-birth. band feeling its way along to get its groove back. Willing to mix it up set-list-wise.
1977: The pinnacle. A fluid, confident, jamming, tight, sweet-sounding rock band that can do it all, and does. Band members are "just exactly perfect" having been at it for about ten years. They're not too old, not too young. Voices sound wonderful (caveat: Donna, but you could say the same about any year since she came on the scene). Band listens to each other more than ever before and the results are stunning. Old songs given extra jamming length (1/2 step, jack straw, bertha, and more)...new songs from Terrapin are introduced. Band produces its greatest single consistently excellent month of shows in May. 5/8/77 still mentioned--and debated--as possibly the greatest show ever. Give me a Dead Time Machine and I'll take that year over any other.
1978-1979 (pre-Brent): Same as '77 but with a harder edge of rock and roll, and also with some clunkers of sloppiness. Signs of wear and tear showing here and there amid some great performances.
1979 (Brent)- 1983: The rest of the band's vocals start to decline, but offset by the ecellent harmonic upgrade of Brent. He also brings a new, more 'accessible" sound on keys. Sloppiness here and there but mostly excellent shows marked by a renewed sense of purpose to continue the journey.
1984-1988: A band in decline, with an aging and ailing leader. Sloppy more often than not. Forgotten lyrics, choppy jams, lack of coherence. And yes, some grand gems pulled out on certain nights. (See 10/12/84. Greek Theater '84, and the other usual suspects).
1989-90: Last of the greatness. Vocals are gone but new attention to musicianship emerges, exemplified by guest appearnces of Branford in '90.
1991-95: If you saw a good show in these years you were lucky. your best shot was '91. After that, just a sad story.